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African kangaroos

Posted on 30 May 2015 | 4 comments

We had planned to run with the Swaras on Saturday and compete in a local mountainbike race on Sunday, but the mtb race had to be cancelled as there had been so much rain that half the course was under water. This meant we had a weekend ‘free’ and could explore some more.

A friend had recommended a private conservancy called ‘Olarro’ close to the Masai Mara so we called them last minute to book a villa. It turned out we were the only ones there that weekend!

Leaving early on a Saturday morning we already arrived at 9.30, they weren’t expecting us yet… We had a cup of tea overlooking the conservancy and – in the distance – the planes of the Mara before quickly getting changed to go for a run. As this is a private conservancy there is a lot more freedom than in the national parks, so even though there are lions, elephants, buffalos (the 3 most dangerous land animals) in the conservancy, we were allowed to go for a run with a car following us closely – just in case…

the chase car is never far away, nor are the local women

the chase car is never far away, nor are the local women

Jude out on the run through the Olarro conservancy

Jude out on the run through the Olarro conservancy

Jon and Jude running together in the Olarro conservancy

Jon and Jude running together in the Olarro conservancy

stretching

stretching

We ran down the major track for 1.5hr before we hopped in the car and were driven back to the lodge for a quick dip in the stunning, multi-level pool before lunch was served with the same amazing views.

lovely pool, a bit cold but we did go in for a quick dip

lovely pool, a bit cold but we did go in for a quick dip

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lunch time, a bit different from our usual sandwich made in the car 🙂

speckled mousebird spotten from our lunch spot

speckled mousebird (or is it a white-headed mousebird?!) spotted from our lunch spot

spotted on the road into the lodge: a beautiful black mamba! highly feared by the locals (with good reason), the name is given because of the colour on the inside of its mouth, not the colour of its skin.

spotted on the road into the lodge: a beautiful black mamba! highly feared by the locals (with good reason as death occurs in 7-15 hours if a bite is not treated), the name is given because of the colour on the inside of its mouth, not the colour of its scales. It is however not as aggressive as its reputation has you believe, but instead will try to flee when threatened.

Then it was time for a little relaxing before we were off with Gerald (our guide) again for an afternoon / early evening safari. It’s the first time we are both spotting animals and somebody else is doing the driving (and excellent spotting at the same time). We enjoyed it very much and spent the whole drive standing up through the sun roof for better wildlife spotting.

Jon taking photos through the open roof of the safari vehicle

Jon taking photos through the open roof of the safari vehicle

2 gorgeous lion cubs at sunset, very curious

2 gorgeous lion cubs at sunset, very curious

one of them came to check out the vehicle

one of them came to check out the vehicle

Back to the lodge we quickly got changed for dinner. But instead of taking us to the usual spot where we had lunch, we were lead down an oil-lamp-lit path to an upper deck where they have set the table just for us. A fire is roaring in the fireplace, candles everywhere, a beautifully set table, a telescope if you want to watch the stars, views of the infrared cameras on the tv screen and a private balcony overlooking the conservancy and the hills in the background.

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our living room for the evening, dinner was just for us set at the dining table just behind the sofas

Did I mention we had the place all to ourselves? A delicious dinner is served with wine or any other drink you might want (gin & tonic thanks!) and we can’t believe how lucky we are.

All too soon, dinner is over and we enjoy the rest of our drinks on the balcony looking at the stars that are slowly appearing from behind the clouds. We don’t have much time to linger though as it is time for our night safari!

We hop in with Gerald and Daniel, an extra guide who helps with the spotting as it is much harder to find the animals at night. We love the night safari, our first in Kenya! We see plenty of bushbabies, amazing acrobats who jump from tree to tree, sometimes over huge distances and then we get to the open plane and spot the African kangaroo!!

our best photo of the African kangaroo...

our best photo of the African kangaroo…

this is what a springhare actually looks like...

this is what a spring hare actually looks like… (photo credit Dominique Schreckling – see link)

Its official name is springhare, but it is a rodent with very short front legs. Due to the size of its front legs it moves like a kangaroo! It is truly amazing to watch (check out the little video so you can see we are not pulling your leg!) and we saw quite a few on the planes. Unfortunately they do dive into their holes when you get closer, but we loved seeing quite a few of them hopping around.


Spring hares
The bizarre spring hare had taxonomists scratching their heads for years. It’s been classified with jerboas (jumping rodents), squirrels and even porcupines. It’s now classified on its own, and it resembles both a kangaroo and hare. It has specialised short limbs with claws for digging as well as flexible ear flaps that can be used to seal off the ear canal to protect against the elements and debris. It’s also got a funny resting position that looks a lot like the yoga Dolphin post: it stretches its long hind legs forward and then rests its head and arms directly on the ground.


Night safaris are totally different from normal safaris and it is quite hard work to spot the animals, but it is amazing to see the action at night for a change. Really recommend it if you ever have the chance.

After a few hours standing in the open sunroof we were quite happy to get back to our villa and find some hot water bottles in our beds! They really do know how to spoil somebody here.

Up early of course for a sunrise drive, followed by breakfast in the usual spot. We passed on the champagne for breakfast as we were getting ready for yet another different type of safari: one on quad bikes!

one of 2 cheetah cubs we spotted on our way home at the end of an amazing morning safari

one of 2 cheetah cubs we spotted on our way home at the end of an amazing morning safari (we saw the mum too of course)

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breakfast with a view…

We each drove our own super quad bike and followed Gerald around the conservancy once more. They know the areas where you are least likely to bump into some elephants or buffaloes, but there are still plenty of animals out there when you zoom around. The best was that we could stop occasionally and hop off to investigate something or just park somewhere in the middle of nowhere, off the tracks and enjoy the sensational scenery and the animals around us.

Jude following Gerald around the tracks in the conservancy, but we were just as often on track as off

Jude following Gerald around the tracks in the conservancy, but we were just as often on track as off

checking out the wildlife from the quad, an amazing new experience and great fun

checking out the wildlife from the quad, an amazing new experience and great fun

After a few hours of zooming around on the quad bikes we went back for a quick shower and a fantastic lunch before Jude hopped on her mountain bike for a ride through the conservancy with Jon driving the chase car this time. Just before we hit the tarmac Jude hopped back into the car and we drove home. Feeling truly lucky and spoilt after spending the weekend in this amazing private conservancy.

Jude leaving the lodge on her mountainbike

Jude leaving the lodge on her mountainbike

on the road back to civilisation a large group of giraffes cross the road just ahead of us

on the road back to civilisation a large group of giraffes cross the road just ahead of us

a fan of giraffes...

a fan of giraffes…

Olarro:

amazing views from the lodge

amazing views from the lodge

our little round and luxurious banda

our little round and luxurious banda

4 Comments

  1. This looks amazing!

    • You’ll have to come and check it out yourself!

  2. Looks fantastic guys. We can’t wait for our own private tour at New Year.

    • 🙂 looking forward to showing you two around!!

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